Alright, my computer crashed and I lost what I had written and am pissed I have to do this thing over. This list wasn't compiled by an STW vote, it's just my list, and it probably shows just by looking at the albums pictured above. Besides separating out the Top 10 and then adding 5 additional albums, these are in no particular order (pictured L to R; TOP - Bright's Eyes - People's Key/Singularity 7", Nirvana - Nevermind Super Deluxe Edition; Middle - Amy Winehouse - Lioness, J Mascis - Several Shades of Why, Workout - Workout, Mastodon - The Hunter, The Black Keys - El Camino, Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo; BOTTOM - Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Mirror Traffic, Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital, Krista Muir - Between Atoms 7", Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts, Crystal Fighters - Star of Love, Love Inks - E.S.P):
This album is way better than it gets credit for. Most people don't agree with this and think this album doesn't match up with past output. I went back and forth with those thoughts for a while until I unintentionally just stopped listening to it for a few months. My sister threw it on in the car the other day and I realized that most people are just wrong about this album and didn't give it a chance......or I am just a biased fanboy. It may not be raw like the old stuff, and lyrically it may not be as strong either; it also may have the most annoying rambling monotone monolagues, but this album has a weird combination of more rock, more weird spacey stuff, and an overall cool electonic esque backdrop much like on Digital Ash only with live instrumentation. Conor Oberst has become much more of a performer, which the fans who like his foot staring acoustic guitar persona may not appreciate, but that is not a bad thing at all. He can still do things his old way but....fuck it, just give this a shot or don't, up to you, it's way better than I originally thought though.
Alright, so in my first draft I had rambled on about how I hate how Pitchfork is so pretentious with their 10.0 down to the tenth rating scale and being the "tastemakers" for the hip world, but then have audacity to give reissues like Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation and Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures perfect scores as if they discovered these bands and weren't working off hindsight. Or how Rolling Stone goes back and updates reviews they were wrong about the first time around but tries to sneak it by as if they were cutting edge and knew it when the album was released.
With the Pitchfork thing it is annoying because it doesn't seem like they judge the re-issues purely by the new product (I know it is hard to separate the two but...) and just want to show how hip they are for loving these albums. We are all for supporting old albums and promoting their greatness, but it should be stated as such or rated purely on what the new pressing has to offer. With Rolling Stone it's just like, who gives a fuck that you thought Pinkerton sucked when it came out but now realize it's awesome. Just state that: "hey, update here, we really dropped the ball the first time around, this album is sick". Shit, I just rambled the whole thing again.
So Nevermind Super Deluxe - this album is obviously a classic, but based solely on the Deluxe and Super Deluxe versions it deserves to be included on the top 10 albums of 2011. (disclaimer - I am a huge Nirvana geek and love the boxset in all its raw, shitty recording goodness) I didn't think they'd have much new to add for this as I have many Nirvana bootlegs from my youth and a lot of that was covered on the boxset - but they really add a lot here for normal fans and super fans alike. The Butch Vig mix of the album is alone worth it (I wonder if they will finally release the Steve Albini In Utero mix for that 20th anniversary), but they have boombox rehearsal tapes that show the songs evolve and loads of other stuff.
A little rushed to capitalize on her death (always classy), but I fucking love Amy Winehouse. We never did a big post when she died because I wanted to make it perfect and got lost in the possibilities. This album has great songs and is great for being thrown together from old recordings. If you are a fan you will love it, and if you aren't a fan you really should listen to her. Honestly, I wanted nothing to do with her in the beginning. My friend harped on her so much, but I HATED Rehab (and still do) and begrudgingly went to a show with him. I thank him forever for making me go. She played with the Dap Kings at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia and completely blew me away. Haven't stopped listening since. If I didn't hate when people write R.I.P., I would end this with R.I.P. (see what I did there? got to act all too cool for school while still doing what I said I don't like)
J Mascis solo album.....any surprise this is the unweak? No, exactly, but this album is actually somewhat of a surprise. Dinosaur Jr was practically a J Mascis solo project for the latter half of their career (prior to reforming that is) and when he dropped that moniker and went with J Mascis and the Fog, it seemed like the name was the only major change. Here though, J actually puts the Jazzmaster down, turns the Big Muff off and goes acoustic for the most part....and it is awesome. Though he is known for blistering distortion (how badly does that sound like cliche rock journalism?) his playing has always been perfect for acoustic songs and this confirms it right here. When Thurston Moore did his Trees Outside the Academy acoustic album, he had J play on it, adding his signature solos, but on his acoustic album he has largely left it behind. I am a huge fan of his guitar work, but it is cool to see something different. If you don't suck, you should really own this album.
5) Workout - Workout
I realized we never reviewed this album when it came out. Shame on us. This album got so much play this year, I think, like a lot of unweak stuff, we wanted to wait and give it proper treatment...which led to giving it no treatment. Well, all's well that ends well, and it's on our Top 10 list of 2011 and right up at the top in our minds. We were unsure of how these guys would translate on record as their live show is very animated and awesome and that energy can be tough to capture in the studio....but they did a fantastic job and, as we said, we listen all the time. Go to the page we made just for them and watch the video for Bottom Barrel Boys (it fucking rules), watch the fairly large collection of live videos, read the reviews and tons of other shit...like where to buy this album. That last one we will make easy (CLICK HERE).
Talking about something that slays....The Hunter does just that and more. We weren't so sure about this album at first, because like most Mastodon albums it sounded different at first - in this case a little too mainstream metally. And like most awesome bands' albums that you think might suck at first listen, this one turns out to be way more awesome than you could have guessed. Fucking awesome.
Last year I put the Black Keys on our list of Top 10 Albums of 2010 Had We Only Gone Out and Bought/Listened to Them (see below) and this was so close to falling into that category again. I could never get into thickfreakness and subsequently gave up trying on this band....but trusted sources always told me I was missing out. I didn't buy Brother like I said I was going to, and almost didn't get El Camino....thank god I finally did, because I got to find out how big of an asshole I have been for not giving these guys another shot earlier. This may be the best album this year. thickfreakness just never grabbed me, but this one has a lot more variation, awesome hooks/riffs/melodies/singing, sick bluesy solos, and it's heavy and rocking to boot.
I should stop saying how much I listened to these albums this year because it's like...no shit, it's a Top 10 list you idiot...but this one got spin after spin after spin as well. I want to pick up the deluxe edition that came out, but still have not. This album could have a little more variation to it, but it doesn't matter because it has a cool sound to it, and for someone who often incorporates so much different shit into his albums, it is cool to hear a constant theme musically. I never know how to describe Kurt Vile to people so.....just buy this and let him describe it himself.
I liked the first Fleet Foxes album, but it didn't blow me away like other people. Cool harmonies and everything, but it was a little...not sad, but not upbeat. A little too slow and beautiful. This album is awesome. Adds just the right amount of fun to their acoustic guitar, harmony laden tunes. Get this album if you haven't already.
Sorry, I know, this one is out of order in the above picture. Dirty little trick making you think Malkmus was in my Top 10. This is another one of my favorites from the past year (duh). Just like the new Fleet Foxes album, this follow up to the Wolf Parade co-frontman's debut makes you realize there was stuff was lacking from the the first album and the band could produce a much better album. Again, the debut album was just a little slow moving and this one brings more of the rock you'd expect from his work with Wolf Parade. Harder synth based awesomeness.
Alright.....there we go.....pretty good year I must say. In fact, here are some runner up albums that are also sick:
Also known as Leaderhosen Lucil, Krista mixes her solo ukulele work with Lucil's more upbeat synth pop energy to create this sweet album.
Beck produced, this album sticks with the acoustic sounds of the last Thurston Moore album but without J Mascis soloing on it. Still unweak.
Crystal Fighters - Star of Love (acoustic)
This came out in 2010 in the UK, but it was released in Europe and Australia in 2011 and they released extra acoustic versions...so we are putting this in here. Both the album and the acoustic renditions are sick. A whole new electro traditional Basque sound. Get it. Check their page for more info.
Simplified synth pop with a drum machine. Only the bare necessities to create awesome pop songs with good hooks.
I could be a bigger Malkmus fan and if I were I would definitely have this in the Top 10. This would be in the Top 10 had not all these other stellar albums come out as this is really fantastic.
Alright, here are a collection of covers selected by fakery. These aren't the top 10 best covers or anything, just a unweak list of unweak bands covering unweak songs.
We are doing these through Spotify now, so...not sure if you will like that or not, but that is the way we are doing it. Getting all hip to technology. Here is the link with the track list below: LISTEN HERE
1) The Passenger - Siouxsie and the Banshees (Iggy Pop)
2) Starman - Mates of State (David Bowie)
3) Bring the Noise - Anthrax (Public Enemy)
4) Have a Cigar - Primus (Pink Floyd)
5) Maggot Brain - Mike Watt/J Mascis/Bernie Worrell (Funkadelic)
6) Dead Souls - Nine Inch Nails (Joy Division)
7) Ain't Nothing To Do - Green River (Dead Boys)
8) Queen Bitch - Green River (Bowie)
9) Touch Me I'm Sick - Sonic Youth (Mudhoney)
10) Mushaboom - Bright Eyes (Feist)
11) Rock & Roll - Jane's Addiction (Velvet Underground)
Alright, so this isn't a top 10 list, but it fits, so we are putting it here. We went through the first round of Wu solo albums, took some notes, compared the tracklists/emcees etc to 36 Chambers and came up with a 36 Chambers pt 2, or 37 Chambers if you will. Return to the 36 Chambers was already taken and we weren't getting that creative, so take it as is. Also, these aren't necessarily the best tracks off the solo albums, just the ones that fit the theme the best...though they are some of the best for sure.
We are doing these through Spotify now, so...not sure if you will like that or not, but that is the way we are doing it. Getting all hip to technology. Here is the link with the track list below: LISTEN HERE
1) Guillotine (Swords) by Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
2) Raw Hide by ODB - Return to the 36 Chambers
3) Liquid Swords by the GZA - Liquid Swords
4) Wu Gambinos by Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
5) Can It All Be So Simple (Remix) by Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
6) Damage by ODB - Return to the 36 Chambers
7) Mr Sandman by Method Man - Tical
8) Duel of the Iron Mic by GZA - Liquid Swords
9) Method Man by Method Man - Tical
10)Winter Warz by Ghostface - Ironman
11) Knuckleheadz by Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
12) Assassination Day by Ghostface - Ironamn
We wanted to get this going once a week, but we failed. Sorry. But here we are with another list. Hopefully you like it and take all these songs with you over Labor Day weekend and listen to them over and over and over and over and over and over and say how awesome they are and how you don't know what you would ever do without STOP THE WEAKNESS.
THE LIST IS BELOW, BUT CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEOS AND iTUNES LINKS.
1) Mango Woman by Ween
2) Hello Johnny by WEEN
3) Behind the Sun by Red Hot Chili Peppers
4) Truly Great Thing by Sebadoh
5) For Reverend Green by Animal Collective
6) Fuck Me Pumps by Amy Winehouse
7) Ain't It Fun by the Dead Boys
8) Forever For Her by the White Stripes
9) Together by the Raconteurs
10) Goin' On by The Flaming Lips
ALRIGHT, AS STATED PREVIOUSLY, GO HERE TO LISTEN TO/DOWNLOAD THE TRACKS. WE HAVE A SPOTIFY ACCOUNT AS WELL AND WILL START ROLLING OUT THESE ON THERE NEXT TIME.
Here we go - these are some good...summer songs? I don't know if there is a theme here, or at least how to articulate the theme, but here are some STW fakery selected tracks of the week. To skip straight to the videos, click HERE.
1) Cold Brains by Beck - this song is from Mutations and is my favorite track off the album. Haven't listened to this in a while and its a great acoustic track. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SONG ON iTUNES.
2) Idiots Rule by Jane's Addiction - this song is from Nothing's Shocking, which is the best Jane's album. Flea plays trumpet on this song, and while Had A Dad is probably my favorite track on the album, this song is underrated and the sweetness. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SONG ON iTUNES.
3) 2:45 AM by Elliott Smith - this is off of Smith's Either/Or and is the first Elliott Smith song I was familiar with. In fact, Culking Smith and I covered this song in a band many moons ago and I actually didn't know who played it until years later. One of my favorites of his. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SONG ON iTUNES.
4) Fight Test by The Flaming Lips - this song is from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. It is the opening track and a cool EP was released that included covers of Can't Get You Out of My Head (song made popular by Kylie Minogue), Beck's Golden Age, and some Radiohead track. There is also a song about Jack White which is a fun tune. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SONG ON iTUNES.
5) The Wooden Song by Butthole Surfers - off of Independent Worm Saloon, this track is probably not what most non-fans think of when they think of the band. This band is the ill and this song is one of the best. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SONG ON iTUNES.
6) Tearjerker by Red Hot Chili Peppers - this song is a tribute to Kurt Cobain is off of One Hot Minute which is the black sheep of the RHCP catalogue and I think wrongly so. The album is sick. This isn't the best track on the album, but I think it fits well with the other tracks on here. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SONG ON iTUNES.
7) Trees Get Wheeled Away by Bright Eyes - this track was not on an album (until later included on the Noise Floor b-side compilation) because Oberst promised it to a friend for a movie soundtrack after he helped Bright Eyes get their first TV appearance. One of my all time favorite songs. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SONG ON iTUNES.
8) Breakdown by Handsome Boy Modeling School (Jack Johnson) - originally a Jack Johnson song (I think), this (remix?) was included on the second Handsome Boy Modeling School album, which is a collection of tracks by Prince Paul and Dan the Automator with various singers/rappers. The first album may be better, but the second one is more poppy and pretty great as well. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SONG ON iTUNES.
9) Chinese Firedrill by Mike Watt - Matt Watt's first album (1995), Ball Hog or Tugboat?, is a collection of tracks with Mike Watt playing with almost every popular alternative artist of the early 90s from the Beastie Boys to J Mascis. It also includes the first recorded tracks by the remaining members of Nirvana (Pat Smear included) post Kurt's death. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SONG ON iTUNES.
10) Melt Your Heart by Jenny Lewis - an awesome track by Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley. It melts hearts, not faces. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE SONG ON iTUNES.
Alright, this is for people who love Mellow Gold era Beck and can't believe they have done extended deluxe versions of Odelay and others but not Mellow Gold. What you may or may not realize is that they pretty much released a second album worth of material through the Loser, Pay No Mind and Beercan singles/EPs, not to mention One Foot in the Grave and Stereopatheticsoulmanure. Anyway, what I have collected here are basically the tracks from the 3 singles mentioned above and then a few additional tracks. Satan Gave Me a Taco is just straight from Stereopathetic but Puttin' It Down is a live version from 1996, which is actually what got me into the song and those albums (I bought a Beck bootleg from some European show in 1996 and he played a handful of tunes of those albums, Puttin' It Down being one of the best).
Anyway, yeah, for those of you who wished for more Mellow Gold era Beck and never knew about these singles, CLICK THIS LINK TO GO TO THE PAGE.
Alright, this page hasn't been updated in a while, so I thought I'd throw together a list of the top 10 songs I'm listening to these days. These are in no particular order and....well, fuck it, I will include videos for each song. This should really go in the videos section but we get a little crazy here sometimes and throw caution to the wind. Wild. Watch out people. Also, we do a song of the day on our Twitter account, so check out that if you wish.
1) At Home by Crystal Fighters - I have been pushing this song since I first heard it and it seems 150,000 others are into this these days. We predict the future here at STW. Review of album here.
2) Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out by The Replacements. Review of album here.
3) Flexbile Flyer by Hüsker Dü
4) Several Shades of Why by J Mascis - Review of album here.
5) Adorable Doorsteps by Capgun Coup. Read the album review here.
6) The Wooden song by Butthole Surfers. Cool live version
7) Nightclubbing by Iggy Pop. Full Review here.
8) New Monkey by Elliott Smith. Full review here.
9) Dead Souls by Joy Division
10) Dead Souls by NIN
Instead of coming up with one master list, I think we are going to get a list from each writer here at STW - or just have multiple lists. Who knows. Either way here is a Top 10 list from and a Top 5 list. We are going to get reviews for some of these albums shortly, but for now we just have the quick list:
1) Black Keys - Brothers
2) Seu Jorge - Seu Jorge and Almaz
3) No Age- Everything in Between
4) Ariel Pink - Haunted Graffitti
5) The Radio Dept- Clinging to a Scheme
6) Wolf Parade- Expo 86
7) LCD- This is Happening
8) Sleigh Bells - Treats
9) Brooklyn Rider - Dominant Curve
10) Arcade Fire- The Suburbs
In no particular order...
Black Keys - Brothers
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - I Learned the Hard Way
....And producer, Bosco Mann (a.k.a. Gabriel Roth, bassist in the Dap Kings and founder of Daptone Records) makes certain that he is only producing good songs. He takes pride in putting together an album where every song is good and you can listen to the album from start to finish without wanting to skip thru any of them. He has achieved that here, and easily puts I Learned the Hard Way on my top 5 albums of 2010 and a must buy.....check out full review of I Learned the Hard Way here
Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards
Rolling Stones- Exile on Main St. (Rarities Edition)
And because in 1980 Rolling Stone gave album of the year to London Calling, which was actually released in 1979, I'm putting down King Khan & The Shrines - The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines (2008). I also haven't been listening to that much new music.
Alright, I was preparing my list of Top 10 Albums released in 2010 and I thought, what a shitty year for music. Most of the albums I was selecting were actually released in 2009 and I was left with only a few I listened to a lot this year that were actually released in 2010....After thinking about it some more, I realized I was just really bad about buying albums this year and there are a ton of albums I really want to get.
So here are my Top 10 Albums That Probably Would have Been in my Top 10 Albums of 2010 Had I Only Purchased and Listened to Them. All the albums that came out this year that I never purchased like an asshole but should have. I am guessing that had I purchased these albums, they would very likely be in my top 10. After making this list, I badly want to run to the record store and pick them up. There are some good ones here, I think. Oh and these are in no particular order:
1) Devo - Something for Everybody
First up we have Devo's Something for Everybody. Not sure how I passed this up. I even participated in the promo they did for the album where they posted clips of say 15-20 songs and asked you to pick 12 or so of those and the ones with the most votes would make the album. Pretty cool idea, let the fans pick the tracklist. They sounded pretty damn good too. Devo is sweet and I bet this album is sweet as well.
2) Mike Patton - Mondo Cane
Here is another one I can't believe I passed up. Mike Patton's Mondo Cane. I love Mike Patton, but I don't love every one of his projects. This one caught my interest though and the videos/songs I have seen/heard are pretty cool. The story behind it - Mike Patton lived in Italy and fell in love with old Italian Pop songs, so he got together a full band/orchestra and recorded his own versions of these songs. Pretty cool idea. Different. If you are looking for hard Mike Patton metal, this is not for you though....at least I think as I have not heard more than a song or two.
3) Neil Young - Le Noise
You know, I am not a huge Neil Young fan. I do like a lot of his music, I'm just not diehard. And I haven't bought a new Neil Young album in.....well, ever. All the Neil Young I own was purchased long after it came out. So why this album? Not sure. I read reviews that all say it is great, and I really want to check it out and see what Neil Young is coming up with these days. For some reason I think I'd really like it.
4) Belle and Sebastian - Write about Love
Once again, how have I not purchased or listened to this album yet? I have been wanting a new Belle & Sebastian album for years....then one finally comes out and I don't even buy it. I am an idiot. Here is my pathetic attempt at an excuse.....I don't like to overload myself with albums because one of the albums is bound to get pushed aside and not listened to. At the time this came out I already had a few new albums I was listening to, so I didn't pick it up. Why have I still not picked it up? I don't know. That's all I can say. Belle and Sebastian are great. I loved their last studio album, The Life Pursuit, and the BBC album they released got me very excited for a new studio album. Also, the songs I heard at their last show (read review here) seemed very promising....AND from what friends and people I trust have told me, this album matches those expectations. I need to get this.
5) The Black Keys - Brothers
This is an interesting choice for me actually. Why? Because I have never been able to get into these guys (I only have thickfreakness, and that's pretty much all I've listened to) and can't say I am really a fan. I don't dislike them, but I don't listen to them. It has never clicked. So why am I putting this on here? Just following the trends? Hopping on the bandwagon? Well, yes and no actually. Over the past year I have seen more of these guys. I have listened to some of the Blakroc songs (collaboration set up by Damon Dash, including Mos Def, the RZA amongst others) and have seen them on tv a bunch. I have always had issue with their form of blues. I feel like they just sort of rehashed old blues and didn't add that much new to it. If I want to listen to old blues, I will just put on a Leadbelly CD or a Robert Johnson CD. I know people will jump all over me for that comment, but that's just the way I feel. From what I have heard, this album seems like they have something new and cool to offer. Sort of like how Jack White incorporates old blues, but adds some newness to it. I could be wrong and eat my words, but I think I would like this album. I need to pick it up. Also, we are compiling a Top 10 list here, and a bunch of our writers have put this as their favorite album of the year - so look for this to be on that list along with an actual review.
6) Slash S/T
Alright, I have brought this album up on here before and still have not purchased it. As I have previously stated, I had no intention of ever buying this album after seeing that people like Fergie were going to be on it. I love Slash and really just didn't need a reason to be disappointed. Then my fellow STW writer played me By the Sword, which is a track with the guy from Wolfmother....it is awesome. Really awesome. I was blown away. So, yes, Fergie is on the album and so is Adam Levine, but there are 12 other tracks on there with people like Lemmy, Ozzy, Dave Grohl, Duff and Iggy Pop. I still have only heard that one song, but I am excited about this album and, based on that one track and cast of characters, think this album should be sick. Very much looking forward to this.
7) Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Ok, this is an album I am not sure about. I wanted to put Sharon Jones and some other albums on here that I am more excited about, but our other writers here have included those on their Top 10 lists, so I felt like I should include some other albums, save for previously mention Black Keys' album which I am too excited about. So here we have Plastic Beach. Trusted sources have raved about this album. I am not a huge Gorillaz fan and have only really listened to their first album. I respect what they are doing for sure, but just don't listen to them a ton. I want to give this album a shot though because I feel like I could like it a lot. While Del the Funkee Homosapien is no longer in the band (Del was my favorite member of the original incarnation) there are a bunch of other guests on this album which really make me want to pick this up. These other musicians include: Loud Reed, De La Soul, Mick jones, Snoop Dogg and Mos Def.
8) The Walkmen - Libson
The Walkmen. This is another one I am not 100% on. I liked You & Me a bunch, but it didn't fully grab me. I bought it along with about 10 other cds and I think I just never gave it a fair shot. People raved about that one, and people are raving about this one, so who knows, maybe this one won't grab me either. That being said, this band is good and I think if I gave it some attention I would love it. These guys have a good sound. The songs aren't that catchy, don't grab you right off the bat, but cool nonetheless. The singers voice kind of sounds like a younger Dylan in his smoking years, but with a little more range - mainly in the upper register. It is tough to describe the rest of their sound. They are definitely indie rock, and have the instrumentation of a rock band, but the songs are typically slower and not that rocking. Not acoustic and folky, just......well, I am going to have to do an accompanying post on the Videos page so people can get a feel for these albums. Hopefully that will be up tonight.
9) Johnny Cash - Ain't No Grave
I grew up listening to Johnny Cash. My dad loves him and he was always playing during my childhood. When Rick Rubin brought Johnny Cash back and started the American Recordings series I bought into it. I loved Delia's Gone and his take on Thirteen. I thought it was cool he was singing Beck (Rowboat) and Soundgarden (Rusty Cage). My dad on the other hand could not get into these albums. Then again, he thinks music died in 1972 and I don't think I could convince him that anything past that date is good, even from his favorite bands. Anyway, The Man Comes Around was the tops. Sure it had Hurt on it, but I think his material is the best stuff on that album. The Man Comes Around is an incredible song and Give My Love to Rose and Tear Stained Letter are very cool versions. Playing it for my dad when it came out, he couldn't get past how bad his voice sounded. To me it sounded great. Sure it is pretty shot, but this is what Rick Rubin does best. Working with Johnny Cash is some of his best work. It is 100% sincere. The minimalist production....it sends chills down your spine. That is why Hurt is so good. I mean, the video takes that song over the top. Honestly it is enough to make you cry. I think it almost brought a tear to my eye the first time I saw it. Sure, I love old Johnny Cash, but the American Recording series are completely different. They take this tough badass mans man and leave him stripped down and fragile. The American Recordings boxset released right around or after he died is a must have and Hundred Highways is equally as good. Therefore I do not know how this could be bad. Johnny Cash seemed to record endlessly with Rick Rubin and Rick Rubin is a perfectionist selecting only tracks that perfectly fit an album. This can be seen with the recent Danzig boxset which was two full discs worth of outtakes that Rubin didn't think fit his albums. These tracks were incredible too, but Rubin just didn't think they belonged on his albums. That is a whole different story, but buy that Danzig boxset. It is great and you will be amazed that these tracks were never released. That's why I think this is legit. I am sure there are discs and discs full of wonderful songs/recordings that Rubin and Cash did over the years but did not release. I need to buy this and will do a review after I do.
10) Prince - 20ten
Prince. One of my all time favorite artists. He is pretty much unstoppable and can write hits in his sleep. That being said, his recent output hasn't been the best of his career. Musicology is fantastic in my book. 3121 I couldn't really get behind, and Planet Earth, though I liked it better than 3121, I never really got into many of the tracks. Then came his 3 disc set released only through Target. No Targets in New York City meant no Lotusflower for me. I am disappointed about that as I heard his two discs in the set are great. No we have 20ten and I am holding out hope. I am putting it here in this list because even if it's not his best, I am sure it is better than a lot of the other records released in 2010. Prince is from another planet. I still haven't bought tickets for the shows next week as scalpers grabbed them all up and I am not sure which one I want to attend. Also it pissed me off that the lower levels have a fact value of $150+. I would pay that in the secondary market, but it just pisses me off that he would start the prices that high. I mean, better to have it go to him than to the scalpers but.......it still seems absurd on his part, but that is why we love him, right?
Alright.....there we go.....I can't believe I didn't buy any of these albums this year. Looking at the list it looks sick. It seems completely plausible that these are the top albums of 2010. There will be an accompanying post in the video section as well if you want a taste of what these albums sound like.
Ok I know there will be objections here and I realize there are omissions but I wanted this list to be something different to read. How many times have you read about Eruption, Stairway to Heaven and Machine Gun as being in the top 10. Maybe not everyone has, but if you are a guitar player then you have read about those a million times I am sure. So I want to go with something different....but not just for the sake of being different. I am go to go for my favorite solos instead of trying to claim what the best are. There is a mix of stuff here and I basically went with my favorite guitarists and then tried to pick my favorite solo of theirs. These are not in any order either, as it's hard enough to pick my top 10 favorite solos. So let's start....oh, and before we get started, if you want to watch the top 10 after reading, you can check the videos page for all the videos...or you can just skip the writing all together
The Stallion Pt 3 by Ween (Gene Ween)
Alright I know this is a weird choice. Some may even say it's a bad choice and I would almost agree if it weren't so awesome. It is pretty bad, really sloppy and just....simple. It sounds like a 5 year old who just started playing guitar wrote it. In fact I vaguely remember the songs/solos I wrote back when I first started playing guitar and they were sort of like this....though they tried to be way more awesome and were nowhere close. A big part of this probably comes from the fact that it is a younger Gener, who still rarely solos, taking a stab at one of his few solos on record. This solo just fits the song perfectly. It is demented, sloppy and simple on the surface, but oddly melodic and awesome once you get into it. Coming right after the "hey dude, he's the Stallion"s, it is shitty, weird and completely memorable. All about feel and how less is more. Side note, Deaner is really the main guitarist of Ween and I feel weird about picking a Gener solo when it's Dean Ween who made me consider a Ween solo for this list. To see some of Deaner at his best, and pretty much his signature solo, check out a live version of Voodoo Lady.
Seven Laws of Woo by Praxis (Buckethead)
This is the opposite end of the spectrum from the third installment of the Stallion. All of these solos are about feeling, but this one is as technical and impeccable as The Stallion Pt III is simple and sloppy. This one was tough as I love Buckethead - strictly (or close to strictly) for his guitar playing I must note - and due to the amount of output in different styles he has compiled over the years. My favorite Buckethead song is For Mom, from his 1998 acoustic album, Colma, which has incredible guitar work and melody, but Seven Laws of Woo is what keeps bringing me out to see Buckethead live. Oddly enough, having released over 30 albums to date, this song comes from his first release, Transmutation, with the band Praxis back when he was 19 years old. Buckethead was discovered when he submitted a piece for a Guitar Player contest. I don't think he won, but was the runner up or something. Either way, Bill Laswell picked him up for Praxis along with Bernie Worrell, of Funkadelic and live Talking Heads fame, and Brain, who would later play in Primus and then Guns N Roses with Buckethead. Praxis is also responsible for Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie's Brains. For the original Bonnaroo Praxis was set to play when Bill Laswell couldn't make it at the last minute. Having played together before (Buckethead, Brain, and Les Claypool), and Claypool already there with his Frog Brigade, Les Claypool stepped in for the absent Bill Laswell on bass and Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie's Brains was formed. It was completely improved, and awesome. I went to the original Bonnaroo and this was one of the highlights for sure. In fact, they played a few more of these improved shows before recording an album, and they were far superior to the tour that followed.
Anyway, back on track.....check out the song. A little 80s shredder, but he takes the cheese out of it and replaces it with incredible weirdness. His speed and accuracy cannot be matched by many, but his ability to combine that with his classical training, love for robots, chickens, weirdness, Disney Land, Leatherface, etc cannot be matched by anyone. This solos is more of a straightforward ripping solo. It melts faces. The riff/organ is enough to make this one of my favorite Buckethead related songs, but the solo is over the top. I highly suggest seeing Buckethead live as I have brought all different types of people to see him, and they have all loved it.....and most likely you will get to see this song. If you listen to the studio track the solo kicks in around 2:30 and really picks up at 3:15 and melts the whole rest of the way. 3:45 and 4:00 in particular. If you want a clear example of why Buckethead is one of the best around, this is where its at. Runner Up: check out For Mom for a completely different side of awesome.
I Could Have Lied by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (John Frusciante)
John Frusciante has been through a lot over the years. His years of heroin-hermit-living gave him a lot of time to sit and think about music, and also brought him so close to death that his playing and outlook on life are much brighter. He also channels everything he learned on his 6 year solo journey around his apartment into his playing. He came back toothless, with his arms scarred from fire, and with the ability and desire to live/hear music in everything he does. His output over the years has been so vast and varied, with so many different groups of musicians (sounds oddly familiar: see Buckethead above) that it makes it tough to choose. Once again I am choosing early material over later, and am picking a song off the second album John Frusciante appeared on, Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
This album has strong feelings attached to it. To some it is believed to be their finest effort, the pinnacle of the band's existence, and to others it is the beginning of the end - the album that destroyed their favorite band. Personally, I think this is their finest effort. I don't think it is where the band started to get good, but I don't think this is the beginning of the end either.....though, I guess it sort of is when you sit back and think about it....but that is just because no RHCP's album after is able to match this one, not that they are bad (in fact, I think I am one of the few out there that thinks One Hot Minute, their only album with Dave Navarro, is the tops). This album is something new all around. The funk is still there, but Rick Rubin used his famous motto of sorts to push the band not to pigeonhole themselves - if it comes from you, then it is your sound....therefore don't worry about what people expect and think your records should sound like.
Blood Sugar shows a young John Frusciante coming out of his shell, becoming part of a group made up of his idols, and this is a song I don't think would not have come along without Rick Rubin's pushing. It is acoustic based, slow and soft, with no funk. This is not what people associated with the RHCP, but this is also grittier, more stripped down, and way less easy-listening-epic than the sound their singles would come to define. I love the riff in this song....for some reason it really reminds me of Prince's When You Were Mine, though not exactly sure why..... but it is really the solo that stands out in my mind. A perfectly dirty guitar cutting through the acoustic base. Simple but beautifully melodic - this is really what he is best at....picking the best notes and the minimal amount of them necessary to get his point across. I love the accents in all the guitar playing throughout the song.....it is really Frusciante's strength in my book.
Sweet Child o' Mine by Guns n' Roses (Slash)
This was the toughest. Probably my favorite guitarist. November Rain usually gets the top 10 nod, and Sweet Child is often up there too, but being a huge fan, I didn't plan on picking one of their monster hits. I wanted to go with an underrated gem. I thought about Coma. I thought about the bluesy You're Crazy from the Live Era. I wanted to do Estranged and I was very close to picking Nightrain....but a lot of the solo is buried under lyrics. What it came down to was....the Sweet Child o' Mine solo is just one of my favorite solos. It was the first, and one of the only ever, solos that I learned all the way through. I had only been playing for a year or two and it was way over my head. Probably played it horribly too, and could never nail the real fast part at the end of the solo. This song was a big hit and I wanted to avoid the hits as many of the solos are over the top and a little cheese, though completely awesome, but I just can't do better. I love this solo and it has everything that makes Slash awesome. It has the real melodic playing, the epicness (to the point of cheesey is up for debate, but I think not), and then the dirty, hard, fast part to end the song. The great thing about Slash is that he plays fast, but it is not shredding. I really don't think Slashes playing is cheesey 80s over the top at all. It is melodic, I agree, butu....well, I like it and don't think its cheesey. He plays fast when he needs to, not to just be flashy and show off. Especially watching Slash live with the hair in his face, standing deadstill or running around, either way making it seem completely effortless. He is awesome and this solo is awesome.
There are so many Slash solos where you have the whole thing memorized in your head.....and that is pretty much my basis for this list. When I thought of which solos are my favorite, it really came down to which solos do I know by heart, because those the ones I love for the most part. Almost all of Slash's solos fit that category for me though, which is what made this so tough. Slash always thought of the guitar solo as a section of its own, and would also write a different section to solo over....not just solo over one chorus, or one verse, most all Guns songs have a whole section written for this guitar solo....and this is no different. Alright, yeah, this solo - all the lead lines, bridge, solo, intro etc. are all incredible. It is almost every aspect of Slash.
Many probably know this story, but originally the intro to this song was a joke and Slash hated it. He was playing around warming up and using that little riff as an excercise, and the rest of the band jumped all over it and wrote a song around it. He hated it for a while and thought it was stupid. Another side fact about this song, one day Izzy went into the studio in NY to mix this song by himself with the mixer. Izzy was always very minimalist, laid back and hated the spot light. Growing up at my age, it was pretty Axl and Slash as the stars, but what I didn't know until recently was that Izzy was always thought of as the coolest when the band started. He quit the biggest band in the world because he just wanted to be playing clubs again. He didn't like the whole show surrounding the band and I presume all the over production. Enough rambling background, but Slash heard Izzy's mix of the song the day after he did it, and he said it was basically stripped down to quiet loosely strummed guitar, which was Izzy's trademark, Axl's voice and then Slash's guitar only on the intro and the solo. Why is this a good story? I don't know, I always just thought it was kind of funny. Izzy is the man. He does his own thing always and is pretty awesome. His first solo album isn't great as it's as overproduced as a Guns album, but in the 2000's Izzy did a collection of Japanese only releases that are pretty awesome. Check out 2002's Coke N'.
So......not really worth getting back on track here. Sweet Child is awesome. Describing guitar solos is tough to not sound either extremely pretenious or horrible lame, so I am trying not to get into the dynamics of the solo too much....though I can't avoid it all together. On that note, I am stopping here. This is my favorite Slash solo for reasons laid out above amongst the rambling and it is incredible. As for rambling, all that Izzy talk got me thinking again how the band is not all Axl and Slash, or Axl or Slash. Izzy is just as, if not more, important than both of them as he bridges the two of them together. Slash on his own is pretty hard and his music doesn't lend itself as well to soloing as GnR did. Axl on his own is way overproduced, ballady, grand, and epic. Izzy tamed and tied them both together perfectly.
Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones (Keith Richards)
This solo pulls together most everything we have been talking about thus far, which is one of the reasons it is my favorite. It is not technical, even sloppy at times, but about feel. It is laid back and cool, and uses only necessary notes to create a pretty badass memorable solo. This is another one that you could sing the whole thing on command without putting much thought into it. I don't think Keith played this on Get Yer Ya Yas Out, which is also incredible, but the original is where its at. I don't have much to ramble on here, so I will tell a quick tale I learned the other day. First off, this was supposed to be a folk song and Keith recommended the samba beat and to amp it up. Keith played bass on this as well, and there is a movie called One Plus One or Sympathy for the Devil, which has some footage of them in the studio at various stages. Also, when this song was first written, the line was, who killed kennedy?, and throughout the recording process had to be changed to, who killed the kennedys? Those are some new facts I learned the other day. Oh and also they say the song was inspired by, The Master and Margarita.
Alright, you know what, fuck this. I can't stand writing this anymore. So the first top 10 is going to be a top 5. I have 5 more, so it will a top 10 eventually....I just want to get these pages up finally...see the date at the top....I started this on the 27th of Sept.